American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, Coast Range, Waddington Group

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1962

Coast Range, Waddington Group. Amid considerable activity (46 ascents) by a large Harvard Mountaineering Club party (21 people), based on the upper Tellot Glacier during an unusually fine four weeks, a few new routes and attempts were made. On August 2 George Millikan and Charles Bickel left the HMC Base Camp to attempt the second ascent of Serra 4 and get a good look at unclimbed Serra 5. They reached the Serra 2-3 col at 8 a.m. and began a slow traverse of Serra 3 on the Tiedemann side, which was hazardous due to loose rock. Reaching a point just below the 3-4 col at 4 p.m., they made the first ascent of a subsidiary peak of Serra 4 and then bivouacked near the base of the main rock tower of the peak. This they climbed early next morning, the route requiring only one short belayed pitch and one piton for protection. Meanwhile Ted Hallstrom and Richard Millikan had set up a high camp just below Serra 3. From here on August 3, leaving at 4:30 a.m., they climbed via the 2-3 col to the summit of Serra 3 by 6:50 and to the 3-4 col by 10 a.m., in all about 15 easy pitches. Here they met the other party returning, continued to their bivouac spot and got their first view of Serra 5, a ferocious looking rock wall dropping sheer from the summit to the col. Since, however, there did seem to be a slight possibility that a more broken-up part of the face to the right of the col could be climbed, they set off for the 4-5 col, arriving in time for a noon lunch after 45 minutes of easy, unroped climbing. The face directly in front was obviously out of the question; it rose vertically for 200 feet and then had a large overhang. Well around to the left looked possible, but there was no way to get around. The obvious route to the right consisted of climbing down an 80° ice-filled gully, then traversing out of it. Two attempts to do this failed, so at 2:30 they left the col, reaching their high camp at 10 p.m., after climbing Serra 4 on the way back. On July 31, two ascents of Stiletto Needle were made, one from the col on the Serra 1 side, and one direct from the Tellot Glacier by a new route. This last was put up by Hank Abrons and Rick Millikan in about five hours from the glacier. Crossing the bergschrund in the sharp angle on the right side of the face, the ascent followed a series of chimneys and ceilings parallel to the west ridge which led to a point midway to the summit and directly below it (4 pitches). The route then tended left to a large ledge on the east base of the summit block, and then back to the right, joining a previous route for the last 80 feet; this involved a short pendulum to the right, a climb to a large shelf and thence straight up to the top (4 pitches). With much verbal encouragement from the second party of Bickel, Dunn and Hallstrom, whose route joined theirs at this point, Abrons found the final pitch could be accomplished without direct aid. The rock on this route is mostly excellent, the holds are distinct but far apart, and the climbing is strenuous owing to the formation of vertical cracks (class V; one or two pitons used on each pitch). The rock summit of Mount Waddington was reached by one party (C. Merrihue, L. Slaggie, H. Abrons, C. Goetze) on July 23, by way of the Tiedemann and Bravo Glaciers, but their horror stories of vertical loose rock on the final tower and extreme crevasse problems on the lower glacier discouraged further attempts. This prompted a second party (D. Dunn, R. Goody, J. Humphreys, D. Morton) to discover after some reconnaissance that it is possible to reach the snow summit of Waddington via Fury Gap in three days from the upper Tellot Glacier. The route lay between Mounts McCormick and Shand, down a steep rock rib (some belays) 1000 feet to the Cataract Glacier, across the Cataract basin to the snow col south of Unicorn, down broad, continuous, snow gullies (left) to the Radiant Glacier, across and up through some crevasses to a camp at the snow col below Damocles. Then down (right) 3000 feet via snow slopes, rock gullies and the lower Chaos Glacier to the Scimitar Glacier, and straight up the Scimitar to an evening camp on Fury Gap, by-passing the final large bergschrund by unpleasant rock on the right. The northwest ridge was then climbed on August 4 in a 15-hour round trip, and 2½ days were spent on the return. Apart from the upper levels of Waddington itself, and the schrund below Fury Gap, this route from the Tellot involved virtually no crevasse problems of any consequence, despite abnormally open conditions due to the nearly uniform fine weather.

John Humphreys

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